|Statement by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Meeting on Cooperation between UN and ASEAN|
I thank Secretary-General Guterres and Secretary-General Lim for their briefings.
China supports the UN in deepening cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter to consolidate and strengthen collective security mechanisms and jointly safeguard international peace and security. In the 53 years since its founding, the ASEAN has worked in earnest to advance regional economic integration. It has also worked hard to build a regional cooperation architecture with the ASEAN at its center. At present, East Asia is a peaceful and prosperous region on the whole. In that the ASEAN and the ASEAN-centered East Asian regional cooperation platform have played an important role.
In recent years, the relationship between the UN and the ASEAN has grown increasingly closer, with ever-improving cooperation mechanisms and expanding areas of cooperation. China highly commends the relationship. On how to bolster cooperation between the UN and the ASEAN, China would like to make the following propositions:
First, we should firmly defend multilateralism together. At present, unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise and factors of instability and uncertainty are multiplying, dealing heavy blows to the international order and global governance system, which makes it even more important and urgent to strengthen multilateralism. The UN and the ASEAN should work together to defend multilateralism in international and regional affairs, unswervingly safeguard an international system with the UN at its core and an international order based on international law, support the ASEAN in the continued adherence to its ASEAN Way characterized by mutual respect, consensus and accommodation of the comfort levels of all parties, and make positive contribution to the maintenance of lasting peace and universal security of the world.
Second, it is important to respect the leadership and role of regional countries and organizations in regional affairs. Because of geographic, historical and cultural factors, regional countries and organizations have unique advantages in handling hotspot issues in the region. The international community should fully respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries concerned and support regional and sub-regional organizations and countries in the region in playing a leading role in mediation. The ASEAN member states have been gravely affected by terrorism and violent extremism. It is therefore necessary to consider the regional counter-terrorism situation and lend vigorous support to ASEAN countries in counter-terrorism cooperation, in their implementation of the Security Council's counter-terrorism resolutions and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and in their joint efforts to combat terrorist financing, drug trafficking and transnational crimes. China applauds the ASEAN countries' important contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.
Third, we should boost economic and social development and connectivity to promote peace through development. The ASEAN members are all developing countries. Accelerating development is the primary task, as well as a fundamental strategy to prevent regional risks and challenges. The UN should further leverage its own mechanisms and advantages in resource and capacity, step up coordination with the ASEAN and provide greater assistance to its members in implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development so as to help narrow the regional developmental gaps and promote youth employment and social stability. Connectivity is an important foundation for the interlinked and integrated development of the region. We support stronger alignment between the regional connectivity initiative and the national development strategies of ASEAN countries for synergy.
As a good neighbor and partner of the ASEAN countries, China attaches great importance to developing its relations with the ASEAN. China is the first dialogue partner to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and the first country to publicly express its willingness to sign the protocol to the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty with ASEAN. China has been an active supporter of the ASEAN's central position in regional affairs. Guided by the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 and through mechanisms and platforms such as 10+1, 10+3 and East Asia Summit, we have deepened cooperation with the ASEAN countries, grown political mutual trust, jointly participated in "the Belt and Road Initiative" and helped maintain regional prosperity and stability. The China-ASEAN relationship has become a pacesetter for the East Asian regional cooperation. China stands ready to work together with all countries to bolster UN’s cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations, including the ASEAN, staunchly support multilateralism and join hands in building a community of a shared future for humankind.
The focus of this meeting is cooperation between the UN and the ASEAN. The Myanmar issue should not be discussed. Regrettably, many western countries have used this meeting to put pressure on Myanmar. China feels it necessary to state its position.
China pays close attention to the Rakhine State issue in Myanmar and has been actively working with Myanmar and Bangladesh and encouraged them to resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation. So far, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh have had three informal meetings of foreign ministers, all of which registered progress and produced important consensus. The ASEAN has played an important role in facilitating Myanmar-Bangladesh dialogue, building mutual trust, and improving the humanitarian situation for the people who fled from chaos and that of the Rakhine State. China commends the ASEAN for that and supports its continued efforts.
Lately, thanks to the joint efforts of the countries concerned, countries in the region, China and the ASEAN, Myanmar and Bangladesh have maintained good interactions. Myanmar has taken a series of positive measures. Positive progress has been made in resolving the Rakhine State issue. The situation on the ground has continued to improve. The international community should cherish the hard-earned momentum for the better, help promote the bilateral dialogue and consultation between Myanmar and Bangladesh and encourage them to expedite the repatriation of the population who fled from chaos, and work to create a sound external environment. Under such circumstances, the Security Council should play an active and constructive role by providing necessary support and assistance to the countries concerned. Excessive pressure will only be counterproductive.
China has taken note of interim decision on Myanmar of the International Court of Justice and the Myanmar government's response, as well as the report recently submitted by Independent Commission of Enquiry. The Rakhine issue has very complex historical, ethnic and religious backgrounds. China supports Myanmar and Bangladesh in their continued efforts to properly resolve relevant issues through negotiation. The international community should play a constructive role in this regard. China also supports Ms. Burgener, Special Envoy of Secretary General for Myanmar, in her continued efforts.
Some representatives made references to the South China Sea issue in their statements. The representative of the US made unfounded accusations against China. China categorically rejects these. It should be pointed out that the UN is not a right forum for the discussion of the South China Sea issue, especially not at the Security Council.
At present, the situation in the South China Sea is largely stable and improving. On one hand, countries that are directly concerned work to resolve specific disputes through negotiation and consultation; on the other hand, China and the ASEAN member states are jointly committed to the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea. This dual-track approach has proven to be the right way to resolve the South China Sea issue. Regrettably, this process has been subject to much disruption and sabotage by some non-regional countries, like the US.
China always respects and supports the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea enjoyed by states under international law. Pursuant to international law including the UNCLOS, states should fully respect coastal countries’ sovereignty and security interests when exercising their freedom of navigation and overflight. China categorically opposes the attempt of any country to infringe upon China’s sovereignty and security in the name of “freedom of navigation”.
The truth is, there has never been any problem with the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. What is really worrisome is the fact that some countries, such as the US, under the pretext of navigational freedom, sent military ships and airplanes to the South China Sea to flex their muscles in an act of provocation and threat to coastal states. This is the biggest security risk in the South China Sea. All parties should resolutely say no to it.
As a staunch defender of regional peace and serenity, China has always pursued a defense policy that is defensive in nature. Pursuant to international law, it is a sovereign state’s legitimate rights to deploy defense facilities in its own territory.
The US has repeatedly accused China of militarizing the South China Sea. However, it is the US that has hundreds of military bases across the world and hundreds of thousands of military forces deployed outside its own territory. The US asks other states to comply with international law, but it is not even a state party to the UNCLOS by now. More than that, it has withdrawn from agreements and mechanisms one after another. While talking about peace and stability in the South China Sea here, the US has stirred up troubles in many parts of the world, becoming a source of turbulence. How can the US be in a position to accuse others of militarization? On what grounds? I wish to tell the representative of the US that militarization is not a right label for China but could make an appropriate one for the US.
The South China Sea arbitration case was mentioned by some representatives just now. The Chinese government has solemnly declared that the award of the South China Sea case is null and void with no binding force. China did not accept or take part in the arbitration. China neither accepts nor recognizes the award.
Some representative touched upon the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Not long ago, China and Russia proposed a Security Council draft resolution on political settlement of the Peninsula issue. We have had two rounds of consultations and the draft resolution is still on the table. We hope that Council members will continue consultation with an open mind and put forth constructive ideas. China is ready to work with all parties to help ease the situation and push relevant parties to resolve differences through dialogue and consultation in a joint effort to achieve denuclearization of the Peninsula and its peace and stability.
Thank you, Mr. President.